What Are Statins?
Statins are a class of drugs commonly prescribed by physicians to help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
Statin drugs include simvastatin (Zocor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), pravastatin (Pravachol), pitavastatin (Livalo), lovastatin (Altoprev), fluvastatin (Lescol), and atorvastatin (Lipitor).
They are the most commonly prescribed medications of all time. Many physicians prescribe them to people with high cholesterol to reduce their total cholesterol and decrease their risk of a stroke or heart attack.
While statins may be effective, they have been associated with mental fuzziness, digestive problems, and muscle pain in some people and may lead to liver damage.
Statins Aren’t Always the Best Answer, and In Many Cases, They Do Cause More Harm Than Good
We have long been told that there are 2 kinds of cholesterol: and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol; and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol. Together, these 2 kinds of cholesterol make up the total amount of cholesterol in our blood.
We have also been told that the higher our bad cholesterol is, the greater our likelihood of atherosclerosis (heart disease) is. Statins have long been touted by big pharmaceutical companies as the answer to all of our “bad” cholesterol problems. And many adults over 40 use a prescription cholesterol-lowering drug.
However, many studies haven’t debunked this long-standing myth. According to a large review that involved about 70 thousand people (published in the BMJ Open journal,) there’s no link between the premature deaths of people over 60 from heart disease and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Approximately 92% of those with high LDL cholesterol levels lived longer compared to those with low LDL cholesterol levels.
So why do physicians keep painting LDL cholesterol as the major cause of cardiovascular disease? The answer is simple—big pharmaceutical companies.
The main reason the “bad and good” cholesterol theory continues is that it’s actually in the best interest of big drug companies to keep selling these medications that amount to about $100 billion annually in sales.
Physicians should only prescribe statins to those with a high risk of a stroke or heart attack in the short-term (those with Type 2 diabetes or very high levels of LDL cholesterol linked to familial risk or those that have already had a heart attack).
7 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally and Improve Your Heart Health:
You can lower your LDL cholesterol and achieve and maintain good heart health by making a few dietary and lifestyle changes:
– Avoid trans fats
Trans fats are listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”. They are used in cookies, spreads, margarines, pastries, cakes, crackers, and more. They can increase your total cholesterol. So, read the ingredients in addition to the nutrition label and avoid products that possess “partially hydrogenated” oil.
– Lower your saturated fat intake
Saturated fats can increase your total cholesterol. But, lowering your intake of these fats may decrease your bad or LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats include full-fat dairy products, red meat, and more.
– Decrease your sugar intake
When consumed in excess, fructose can put a lot of strain on your liver and even elevate your LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and blood glucose levels.
– Increase your healthy fat intake
Healthy fats can increase your HDL or good cholesterol, and reduce your triglycerides. Foods high in healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, coconut and coconut oil, olives and olive oil, and more.
– Increase your soluble fiber intake
Soluble fiber can nourish healthy probiotic gut bacteria and lower cholesterol absorption into your blood. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, lentils, peas, beans, pears, apples, Brussels sprouts, and more.
– Get regular exercise
Exercise can enhance your physical fitness and help combat obesity. It can also help decrease your LDL cholesterol and elevate your HDL cholesterol.
– Quit smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation
Smoking increases LDL or bad cholesterol, decreases LDL or good cholesterol and hinders your body’s ability to send cholesterol back to your liver to be broken down or stored. But, quitting smoking may reverse these effects. Also, 1 or 2 drinks per day might improve HDL or good cholesterol and lower your risk of clogged arteries. But, heavy drinking can harm your liver and elevate your risk of heart disease.